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Fernando Alonso to contest Daytona 24 Hours in January

Fernando Alonso will contest the 2018 Daytona 24 Hours with McLaren boss Zak Brown’s United Autosports team.

The race, set to held next January 27-28, will mark Alonso’s second appearance at an iconic American race in less than a year, following his participation in the 2017 Indy 500, and his debut in sports car racing. Suggestions of an appearance at the event started to surface during the U.S. Grand Prix and have been confirmed by Racer on Tuesday.

The Daytona 24 Hours is held annually at the Daytona International Speedway and combines portions of the famous oval used in NASCAR and the infield road course.

Alonso recently signed a McLaren contract extension for the short-term future but has made little secret of his desire to capture a Triple Crown before he retires from motor racing.

That consists of a Monaco Grand Prix, which he has won twice, the Indy 500 and Le Mans 24 Hours.

His participation in the Daytona 24 Hours is further proof he is preparing for a future run at the latter by giving himself some experience of endurance racing.

“As I said many times, the Triple Crown is the main thing,” Alonso said during the U.S. Grand Prix weekend. “I know that the Indy 500 was a nice thing and I felt very competitive, but it was a big challenge that I took from zero, with no testing and no similar racing experience before the Indy 500 at any other oval, it was a big challenge.

“I was competitive and it felt good but if I want to prepare for Le Mans maybe there are other possibilities to prepare Le Mans a little bit better [than I did for] the Indy 500.”

Unlike the Indy 500, which forced Alonso to miss the Monaco Grand Prix to take part, the Daytona 24 Hours does not clash with any F1 events as it takes place during the off-season. According to Racer’s report, the two-time world champion will get a first run in the United Autosports car the week before the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The event then has a practice session called the Roar Before the 24 held in the opening week of January.

Paul di Resta, who is one of the drivers being evaluated by Williams about a full-time drive next year, will compete in the other United Autosports entry.

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